UN calls for push to cut greenhouse gas levels to avoid climate chaos

(The Guardian, 26 Nov 2019) Global emissions must fall by 7.6% a year for next decade to avoid crisis, report says.

Countries must make an unprecedented effort to cut their levels of greenhouse gases in the next decade to avoid climate chaos, the UN has warned, as it emerged that emissions hit a new high last year.

Carbon dioxide emissions in 2018, also accounting for deforestation, rose to more than 55 gigatonnes, and have risen on average by 1.5% a year for the past decade, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) annual emissions gap report.

Global emissions must fall by 7.6% every year from now until 2030 to stay within the 1.5C ceiling on temperature rises that scientists say is necessary to avoid disastrous consequences. The only time in recent history when emissions have fallen in any country at a similar rate came during the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the financial crisis and recession, emissions in the US and Japan fell briefly by about 6% but soon rebounded.

However, technologies such as renewable energy and electric vehicles are now available, and increasingly cheap, which could enable deep cuts in carbon without jeopardising economic growth.

John Christensen of the Technical University of Denmark, a co-author of the report, told the Guardian the cuts in emissions now required were “unprecedented”.

Postponing action could no longer be an option, said Inger Andersen, executive director of UNEP. “Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we must now deliver deep cuts to emissions [of] over 7% each year, if we break it down evenly over the next decade. This shows that countries simply cannot wait.”

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The Guardian, 26 Nov 2019: UN calls for push to cut greenhouse gas levels to avoid climate chaos